Travel Etiquette 101

When my blog was first started, it was done so with the intention of sharing some of my travel experiences, and perhaps some travel tips, hints, websites, etc. Since I haven’t been on a trip since February and my recent travel experiences have been limited to my daily commute, there hasn’t been a wealth of anything useful to share, except perhaps how to maneuver a roundabout.

Now that summer is upon us and the summer travel season is in full swing, I thought perhaps now is a good time to provide you with some travel etiquette tips. Today, I will feature airline travel tips.

The opinions expressed here are solely mine and the information provided here may or may not provide you with a better travel experience. Your personal satisfaction is not guaranteed and your travel experiences may vary, but I can guarantee that your fellow travelers will appreciate the effort. Well maybe not. Let me rephrase that – I will appreciate the effort.


  1. Check-in Counter – Be prepared. Not only is this a fine motto for the boy scouts, but it should be adopted by travelers too. Have your papers in order. When you are standing in the cue waiting to check in, make sure you have everything you need in your hand. Don’t wait until you’re at the check-in desk to root through your purse or carry-on for your passport, identification and tickets. Those behind you in line and the check-in attendants will appreciate your efficiency.
  2. Self Check-In. This tool is meant to streamline the check-in process, or at least that’s what the airlines want you to believe and perhaps it would be true if the majority of the people knew how to use them. If you aren’t technically efficient or aren’t good at reading and following simple instructions, I would recommend that you proceed to the “live” check-in counter, as the live attendants certainly appreciate the endorsement for their job security. After all, you wouldn’t want to risk an eye twitch and spike in high blood pressure – mostly mine.
  3. Weight Restrictions. I would like to introduce you to this wonderful gadget I’ve discovered to assist me with ensuring my baggage is not over-weight BEFORE my arrival at the airport - it’s called a bathroom scale and these can typically be found in most households and the best part of all, they are easy to use and while not 100% accurate, they will do the job. Believe me when I say, your fellow travelers do not need to see your unmentionables strewn across the airport concourse because you are forced to repack your baggage in the middle of the check-in line.
  4. Carry-On Baggage. Since when does a medium sized suitcase with rollers classify as a “carry-on” item? Note the words “carry-on”. If you can’t carry it, you shouldn’t be taking it on the plane with you; however if you do manage to get it on the plane, you will most likely have problems dragging it down the aisle behind you. Airplane aisles aren’t meant for people with hips – let alone people dragging, bumping and stumbling their way down the aisle. My recommendation – if you can’t pick it up to store it in the overhead compartments without the assistance of an airline attendant or passerby, you need to rethink the necessity of this item. From time to time, there is nothing wrong with asking a stranger for assistance, but self-sufficiency is very rewarding and also the key to a successful trip. Don’t rely on the kindness of strangers or you may be sorely disappointed.
  5. Put your seat back into the full and upright position. Please take a moment to consider those travelers that are sitting behind you when you decide to completely recline your seat. I understand the need to be comfortable while you take a nap, but considering you have never met the person sitting to your rear, I’m not sure they feel totally at ease your head resting in their lap. Also, as a reminder, there are those behind you that may wish to use their tray table or perhaps even use the facilities and your reclined position does not make this feasible.
  6. No Shoes, No Service, No Friends. Once again, I understand the need to be comfortable while we travel; however I beg of you to please leave your footwear in place. There are enough foreign smells to indulge travelers on an airplane, so the addition of your foot odor is not required.
  7. Watch your Fluid Intake. In order to alleviate travel-related, fatigue and headaches, you should considering staying well hydrated and drink lots of water; however the exception to this piece of advice would be those travelers with the window seat. Window seat travelers should only consider the intake of water once their headache has arrived and only the small amount required to swallow their Tylenol. When you give a window seat traveler a lot of liquids, you might as well be giving a 2 year old a Big Gulp – the two do not mix because sooner or later, they will need to visit the facilities…numerous times.
  8. Attendant Call Button. Unless you are traveling with small children or having a heart attack, I do not see the reason for a totally able bodied individual to use this feature. If there is something that you require so desperately that you can’t wait until a flight attendant happens your way, which will most likely be in a few short moments, get off your rear-end and go get it. Using this button just makes you look pathetically lazy and irritates those around you - besides a walk is good for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis and if you are lazy enough to use the call button feature, you need all the help you can get.
  9. Lavatories. Contrary to popular belief, these cramped and disgusting cubicles are not meant to be used as a change room or full-service bath. This is particularly problematic on long haul flights to or from sun destinations to winter weather destinations. I just don’t understand the overwhelming need to emerge from the airport in my bathing suit. There is nothing worse than the pilot announcing the plane will be landing shortly and then watching certain travelers make a run for the lavatories with armfuls of clothes in tow. Keep in mind, this is not the change room at Wal-Mart and there are actually people waiting in line that need to use the facilities. Hint: perhaps if you didn’t feel the need to bring that change of clothes, you wouldn’t require the roller suitcase you struggled getting on the plane in the first place.
  10. Traveling with Children. I understand the prejudiced faced by parents traveling with small children - I’ve been there. It’s not a pleasant feeling to be walking down the aisle with child in tow and watching the looks of sheer panic and horror on the faces around you. We’ve all been known to hold our breath, whisper a prayer and look quickly away, hoping the child will come to rest anywhere but in your immediate vicinity. It’s a very nerve racking experience, for both you and the parent. As a parent, I would recommend that you do everything in your power to make the experience a pleasant one – for both your child and those around you and whatever you do, try not to aggravate an already tense situation by allowing your child to expel their pent-up energy within the confines of the airplane. It may take a little more work on the parent’s part, but for your safety and that of their child child, do not allow your child to continuously kick or hang from the seat in front of you. Do not allow your child to constantly play peak-a-boo over the seat in front of you while eating spewing apple sauce or spaghettios. Do not allow your child to play with bubbles, balls or anything else that will make it into the personal space of others. My number one recommendation - do not allow your child to run up and down the aisle at random. Not only is this a remedy for disaster, but I know for a fact people take great personal pleasure in tripping small children…

I hope you have found something of use within. Remember, if you do your part, everyone traveling with you will benefit, but I will appreciate it the most.

If there is a specific topic or mode of travel you would like covered on a future segment of Travel Etiquette101, please feel free to contact me.


I am really bd when it comes to kids in general. Although I have never tripped a child, I have been known to ask them to be quiet - in front of their parents. Sometimes a stranger telling them to shut it is enough to calm some kids down and so far it's worked for me. I know it's mean and that parents probably don't appreciate it but sometimes I have been unable to stop myself. It was a bit of a knee jerk reaction!

Otherwise good tips! I hate to see people walking around without shoes truthfully. I especially hate to see it at stores.
SA - While, I've never actually tripped a child myself, I've witnessed it and shame on me, but I found it funny!

Good for you for speaking up. I don't think it was a knee jerk reaction - sometimes parents need these things brought to their attention, although your right, they don't appreciate it.
Brian Miller said…
having just spent yesterday in airports coming back from florida...there is great wisdom in the tips. shoes especially. if you could be kinf enough not to eat broccoli of another substance that will require you to add to the already sweat filled malodorous air, that would be much appreciated by the guy sitting next to you. yeah, the last leg...really bad.
JW.BW said…
How funny!! And how true!! i truly detest flying, which is unfortunate for me since i fly all the time. I always end up sitting behind the toddler that likes to spray raspberries all day and the parents do nothing but laugh. And I always find it interesting that people WILLINGLY walk barefoot in the airport through security check, YOU KNOW you have to take your shoes off, and if you dont want to wear shoes and socks just bring some slipper socks or something. Barefeet in the airport is soooo gross!!
CrazyCris said…
Ouch! I used to be more tolerant to children on flights... after all I travelled across the globe on planes as a child (and my younger sisters as well). But after several years of frequent flying and having the bad luck to sit in the immediate vicinity of bawling kids... I give up! I am now one of those who cringes. snif!

I've found that my ipod or laptop help me get through it quite well though! ;o)

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